While I definitely don’t have amazingly ripped abs like someone who is peaking right before a physique competition, I do have visible abs (go with me on this, I swear I’m not that narcissistic). However, most people are surprised to hear that I very rarely do direct ab exercises like crunches. Long story short, I would, but I am unable to do so because of a medical issue. Anyway, how is it possible to have abs without doing thousands of crunches, twists, and rollouts?
- exercises alone will not yield you abs
- track your eating (give tracking apps)
- meal composition (p, f, c)
- drink more water
The answer is simple. Abs are not “made” in the gym. Abs are primarily revealed through a healthy diet. By fueling your body with the proper nutrients it needs in the necessary quantities, you will reduce your body fat percentage to a level that is optimal for ab-joyment.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Track your eating
I know, some of you are rolling your eyes. You’d rather spend the night in a cage full of man-eating lions than write down what you eat. So let me meet you in the middle; only do it for a week. Seriously, the fastest (and safest) way to see results is to track what you eat. There are several apps out there that make this task fast and simple (such as MyFitnessPal). For the first few days, don’t change your regular diet; this will be a very eye-opening experience for most. Some people will be eating way too much, some people, too little. For a good estimate of how much you should be eating, go through the steps to creating an account at myfitnesspal.com.
- Eat often and know what you’re eating
We’ve all done it; been so caught up in our work during the day that we forget to eat. But be warned that eating too little can have a detrimental effect on your body fat reduction goals, just as eating too much can. Your metabolism will slow to a crawl, leaving you with less energy and an increased propensity to binge eat later. Avoid all that by remembering to eat! Set a timer on your phone, if need be.
It’s also important to know the composition of your meals. In general, each meal should always contain a quality source of protein. This will help with satiety and maintain your hard earned lean muscle mass. In addition to that, add a source of carbohydrates, fats, and/or both, depending on the time of day; for example, if you eat dinner with your family, plan to eat more carbs around this time. To give a very general range: each day, a person’s intake should be about 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 30% fats. This is by no means a hard and fast rule, as everyone responds differently.
- Drink more water!
Drinking water has numerous benefits, and being chronically dehydrated can really hinder your progress toward showing those abs. Aside from the obvious “water is necessary for life”, drinking enough water will improve your metabolic functions. What does that mean? It means being hydrated helps you burn body fat! You should be drinking at least 8-13 cups of water a day (and more, depending on your activity and perspiration levels).
While exercising is a given, a healthy diet will be the key to uncovering those hard-earned abs. So eat right, drink water, and get cooking!